Chat about school construction with Tom Bracciano
September 6, 2006
This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.
Tom Bracciano, operations and facility planning director for the Lawrence school district, talks about the district's $54 million bond-financed construction bonanza.
Hi. Tom Bracciano, USD 497 Operations and Facility Planning Director, has arrived at the News Center and the chat will begin in a few moments.
Hi everyybody I am here in the news room and ready for any questions you may have regarding the recent bond issue. Cody Howard is here along with Dave Toplikar should restraint be necessary.
Is everything on schedule so far with the bond construction projects?
Yes it is and we're under budget. Two rarities in this day and age for a public project. We have a wonderful team of construction managers, contractors and architects that have kept things going extremely well.
The new Accessible entry at New York School looks great but we can't use it in the morning now due to a new "security" policy. I'm hoping that we can get an office remodel so the front office people can better monitor the front door. Any ideas when this could be done? Are there any current plans? We'd really like to use our front door.
As you mentioned, security has become more and more of an issue at every building. We do have future plans for all of our buildings that will allow for better supervision from the office areas. Security and safety projects are typically very high on the list of priorities so I don't anticpate it being too long at all.
What is being done to improve bike and pedestrian access to school sites?
Bike and pedestrian access to district sites is really a cooperative arrangement between the city and school district. Once on our property we have more ability to allow for easier access. We have done quite a bit recently in the way of ADA access improvements at quite a few sites. these range from ramping to automatic door openers to ADA playground equipment.
Tom: Hillcrest has completely lost its basketball courts with the addition of several more classroom trailers. I thought Hillcrest's ESL population was supposed to shrink this year, with Cordley's ESL program coming online and subsequent transfers. What is the plan for Hillcrest - are those trailers there for good, and is there any discussion about making any permanent building improvements/additions to Hillcrest?
Hillcreast remains an issue that needs to be resolved. We have discussed boundary changes and gone throught the process of splitting the ESL program as you mentioned. Please rest assured I am not in favor of portables or taking away playground space. We are only responding to the space needs that the building program has.
A decision needs to be made about whther Hillcrest should be a 3 section or 2 section school. the site is limited and this makes it not really conducive to a 3 section facility. It is a situartion that we have faced before but we need to decide on a plan and move forward.
Tom: You've mentioned that technology is a big part of the bond project? What's the details?
We are the process of bringing the technology component into the projects now. The district has been working with Siemens Building Technologies for the past year on integrating our facility hardware and software. This consists of tying the fire, security, HVAC, door access, security cameras, etc. all together and allowing them to communicate through the network.
The potential this technology integration has is awesome. When we have this system put in in March and August the technology will exist for police and fire to remote monitor our security cameras should there be an alarm in the building. The dispatchers could view the building through the cameras before police and fire even arrive.
The technology will be there but we will have to work through issues such as access, proceedures, protocol, security, etc. This will involve discussions with the Board of Ed and City, County should the Board wish to persue it.
Do you think security cameras are really necessary in the junior high schools?
The junior high principals have listed cameras as their number1 priority for building needs. I have two kids in junior high. In short my answer is yes.
This isn't really a school question, but...
Are you planning on running for the city commission again?
I haven't decided yet. I find it very interesting that the issues I talked about and said I would deal with last April are now the big topics. Jobs, education, housing prices and neighborhood renewal.
I'm not sure if I should be encouraged to run by that or discouraged. I will talk with Jack and maybe we'll have an answer shortly.
You said early on that the projects were coming in under budget. What happens to the leftover money -- does it go back into bond repayment so that taxpayers have an easier time of it? Or do you apply it to some other project?
That decision is made by the Board of Education. Personally I know we have so many needs at these schools that I would hope we can use any surplus for other projects on our capital outlay list.
I feel that as a district we are competing for kids. In that competition facilities are a huge factor. We need to provide not only a first rate curriculum and staff but first rate facilkities. This is the new reality as families shop for schools.
That concludes our chat today. Thanks for your time, Tom.
Had a good time. Always look forward to pickin' up the paper in the morning and reading it with Jack. Great way to start the day.